Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life and living in Cape Town

In order to redeem ourselves in the eyes of those who growl and pass comment at our lack of commitment to our journal (blog entries) and also to get over the guilt due to this same lack of self-discipline, here is an update!

As expected the yacht is very un-ready for occupation or for the water or for anything else but TLC from the right hands (those of the boat builders), so in the middle of March we moved into a small apartment in Bloubergstrand. It is in a large complex (Big Bay Beach Club), but we are on ground level in one of the front blocks, with a grassed front area and a classic view of Table Mountain. (By crouching at a suitable angle and waiting for the appropriate time, you can get a photo that does not show the main road in front of you....!)

With two bedrooms, a tiny open-plan living area/kitchen and miniscule patio, it serves as a home and office adequately.... with the occasional bouts of non-coping, depending on the task at hand at the time. In this picture the patio table has been brought in to provide a surface for all the meds while Irene systematises the medical kit. Rolf occasionally demonstrates his multitasking abilities by drinking Black Label whilst cooking (seen below reading the microwave instructions on the vege pack) and working on two computers simultaneously. He was very happy when the tumble dryer was fixed for us, but the ladies at the laundry miss him now!

With a tiny home, our living space is huge: our garden extends to the most beautiful beach, as seen in the photo, and when the wind blows (as it really does here... whilst we were sail-training this area was referred to as tornado alley!) it brings out incredibly skilled kite-surfers (pin-pricks in the photo) and creates amazing patterns in the beach sand.

So what are we up to? Bloubergstrand is very well placed to access the boat factory at Atlantis and also Paarden Eiland, where many of the marine suppliers are situated. We have spent days researching the best places to get the best stuff at the cheapest prices... soon we will actually have to start buying it! Amongst other things, we have found the perfect dinghy (semi-rigid Gemini with 15hp motor), a great digital barometer (retains a 24h history so you can watch the trend... and scurry into a bolthole if necessary), the most desirable chartplotter and AIS, sources for charts, an Iridium satellite phone, scuba tanks, speargun, a small Croc ‘river raft’ type inflatable for messing around in / diving / fishing from and as backup to the tender, Plastics for Africa in Somerset West (which supplies just that, really cheaply, and may become a second home...) and a great shop in Woodstock for most galley items. In terms of the latter, we will go for the tableware they supply to hotels: it is breakable, but with reinforced rims/edges much more resistant to chipping and cracking.

We are also close to a gym and have bought a couple of months membership – so after taking great delight in ceremoniously cutting up his gym card in Pretoria, Rolf is again grumbling and whining as he is made to work off his preferred diet of beer, chocolate and coffee. (Irene consoles herself mostly with swimming and light exercises as she is still nursing knee injuries – initially from scrambling around and crouching over boat winches and then from riding the Argus cycle race with gammy knees.)

Still following the stock markets and with some old claims on the go, Rolf continues working (the printer is in bedroom #2) and we both need access to the internet: a source of enormous frustration as we have had endless problems in this regard. However, we soldier on, controlling our fury when the 3G card generally provides only 2G facility (before dropping us completely) and spending time at places that provide wi-fi access. Several trips to computer shops and a total clean-out of Rolf’s computers eased some of the problems he had in even accessing the wi-fi, but we simply delete mail that comes with heavy photo attachments and which has been forwarded many times - and fondly recall the ability we previously had to e-mail photos and google whatever we were curious about, whenever curiosity struck us.

Of course, it is always encouraging to find wi-fi places with a view and these become favourite places for sundowners too. Always entranced by sunsets and amazed by those previously provided by the big highveld skies, we also marvel at those here (hence the endless sunset photos!) The cloud formations supplied daily by the mountain and winds provide wonderful three-dimensional canvases for the sun to colour.... these photos are real, and the last two taken through windows.

We have been incredibly lucky to have a wonderful weekend social life: many friends have been in the Cape and we have enjoyed catching up with news from Gauteng whilst doing the “tourist thing” with them. We also have friends and family in the Cape with whom we are thrilled to be able to spend time again. So... we have brushed up on our knowledge of wines, re-visited beautiful areas long not seen (including the top of the mountain and Gordon’s Bay, shown here) and generally enjoyed all Cape Town has to offer. This city is wonderful, and feels like home.

However, it will not be home forever as (one day....) our yacht will be ready! It presently looks pretty unchanged from the outside, but will one day (hoping for one month from now...) be swung into the water and launched like this.....

.... after which we will sit at the helm and sail away!

However, to prepare for that we will have to apply ourselves further and as we get closer to the big day we get a better idea of how much space we will have and hence where we will put what... and what must go. A recent wonderful visit by Mark and Livi provided a breath of fresh air.... as Liv attacked our pile of clothes and provided an objective eye and a ruthless attitude to discarding. This resulted in a number of happy locals receiving unexpected packets of clothes over the weekend....!

So. Life in Cape Town is busy, fun and rewarding and (who knows?) Cape Town is a city where it would be wonderful to make a permanent home one day.